COVID continues to constrain all types of retail, but with new technologies there are growth opportunities ahead.
There are a number of examples to show how this can work. Retailers such as Coach and Zara have used historic consumption data to drive “in the moment” behavior, during the sale, as well as predict future behavior. This is done via AI with tools such as upsell to maximize sales opportunity. For wireless retailers, the depository of data they have provides an excellent lens into past sales and future prospects.
Today the biggest challenge for wireless retail is planning for the future. This involves taking the data they have, and through the application of AI and other technologies, determining what needs to be in stock, how many people are required on the sales floor, and which regions can expect the most growth in the future. That predictive component is of special value today.
These new technologies can help drive ambiance at the store level, increasing customer sales. Regional and demographic dynamics also play a role, which can be captured by the technology. Let’s take a look at each of these and see how they lead to the best customer interaction in the store.
Holistic and inviting
One of the first steps in developing a strong brand experience is to think ambiance. How do we make the store or website inviting to customers? For this, wireless retailers must think holistically from service to space to inventory.
Using data from our company, carriers, and partners, we create products that enhance the store ambiance, making the experience more holistic for customers. We capture analytics related to traffic, consumer behavior patterns, marketing activities, even engagement with associates and products and then package them into applications. We present this to a retailer and carrier, describing how the data has shown us what is happening and/or what will happen in some period of time, and how this application can help them.
As a company, B2B Soft has capabilities to combine POS data with door traffic to show Promo Conversion/ROI. We can also provide a carrier or dealer with this data or combine it with a scheduling partner, such as Shiftlab, which uses historic sales data to recommend staffing levels in the future.
Europe and Asia have really been able to take the “ambience” and service components to the next level. Some years back in Asia, people were able to shop for competitive offers while being in the store. And so, as it becomes increasingly more difficult to compete for consumer’s “share of mind,” we will see both the experience and technology becoming the driving forces for growth.
Many people look at retail through a transactional lens, “We are here to buy.” Our view is that this will evolve into more of a brand experience. The retail component will share the attention of the customer with the brand. The customer will learn the values of the brand and the transactional component of the brand must be anywhere at your convenience.
At B2B Soft, we have a couple of disciplines in our organization. We not only have the technology that we are utilizing through our product, but we also have a wide consultancy. A fundamental concept we embrace is that there are two types of consumers: Digital First and Digital Second consumers. People in the Digital Second group will happily trek down to a neighborhood store to see a product. They like that experience. Then, after seeing it in the store, they’ll go online and research it.
Most of the younger generation is Digital First. If you tell them of an item, they don’t think retail store. They go online and look at what the website offers. What we saw during COVID was a huge crossover where Digital Second became Digital First customers. And so these crossover customers will continue to evolve and force technologies to deliver the information and the products they are looking for when they want it.
Regional and demographic dynamics
How you shop today is now even more complicated than before COVID. Shopping has always been impacted by where you live. Is it urban? Suburban? We know a lot of consumers who especially want to shop in a store now and will go to it.
In addition to those who merely want to “get out,” we have the potential trend of the Digital First who have had digital interaction and want to be outside, walking on the street, going to the store. And so we have forces bringing customers to the store but without the technology to really engage them, we will miss an important chance at growing our customer base.
This is an important time for telecom retail. It needs to use newly evolved sales technologies to capture a surge in customers. It may be a one time opportunity for some retailers, or a shift to sustainable increases in sales activities for the more flexible and tech savvy.